Technical Update from Alex Foessel
Departure from Santiago
Today we depart from Santiago de Chile to Punta Arenas (southern most city in
the world). We are flying on a Chilean Air Force (FACH) Hercules C-130 plane.
The plane carries our team and equipment in a 5 hour long flight.
The team gathered at the Apart Hotel Club Presidente around 7:45AM. All members
departed from there with the exception of Fernando Valdes whomwe met at the
airport. We arrived to the Air Force Base at 8:30. The Herc took off just before
noon. In the mean time we had the chance to eat some breakfast to survivie the
flight (unlike the domestic commercial carriers, this does not have beautiful
flight attendants offering food and drinks every five minutes).
All the equipment was loaded on the plane except for the snowmobile that we
rented in Santiago. This is a Skidoo Skandic WT 500 that we got from a ski
resort. The skidoo should arrive to Punta Arenas later today in a second Herc
flying to Punta Arenas.
We have reserved sleep accomodations at the Air Force Base at Punta Arenas.
Having Captain Puebla among us seems to facilitize getting support and resources
from the Chilean Air Force.
The current plan is to work all Friday assemblying the robot. We have to be
ready to take off to the ice any time during or after Saturday morning. Other
activities are to get a second snowmobile at Punta Arenas, buy some food and
groceries, get the last hair cut and good and hot meals before departing to the
The New Team Members
The original team that departed from USA was:
Matthew Deans (CMU, USA), Stewart Moorehead (CMU, Canada), Bill Cassidy
(University of Pittsburgh, USA), Pascal Lee (NASA-AMES, France), Nicolas
Vandapel (LAAS, France), Liam Pedersen (CMU, South Africa), Michael Parris (CMU,
USA), Mark Sibenac (CMU, USA), Alex Foessel (CMU, Chile).
During the last three days, we had three more people join our team. These are
chilean researchers invited to join our expedition with the hope of future
academic colaboration. The new members are:
Captain Cristian Puebla (Chilean Air Force Officer, Chile). Aeronautic engineer,
Master in astronautic engineering.
Fernando Valdes (Chilean Air Force, Chile) He is pursuing a PhD in the
University of Santiago de Chile.
Danilo Bassi, PhD (University of Santiago de Chile faculty, sponsored by the
Chilean Antarctic Institute, Chile). He has a PhD at the University of Southern
Cristian and Fernando are the two people that we invited from the Chilean Air
Force to integrate to our team to prduce a technical relationship with another
institution that has space within sight. Danilo was selected by the Antarctic
Chilean Institute as a chileam representative in this scientific expedition as
part of our colaborations deals with the chilean government.
Conversation with Entel
I had a meeting with Entel yesterday. We spoke about the results of their
expedition to Patriot Hills to test satellite commumications fron high laitudes,
and of possible cooperation deals after knowing that there are no Intelsat comms
from Patriot Hills.
Last week Entel satellite technicians deployed a satellite communication dish
and transceiver at Patriot Hills (they returned two days ago from the ice), to
explore the possibility of having communications through Intelsat constellation.
The leader of the team had bad news , for they were unsucccesful into receiveing
any signal from the satellite of the Intelsat constellation. The dream of free
comms faded away.
However, they did deploy an Inmarsat case and had succesful results. Finally, we
discussed how could we work together, and they will follow the following
actions: they will request traffic free of charge through the inmarsat system.
If that request does not succeed, a lower fare will be requested and also Entel
would match money to double the number of hours (up to a certain limit, of
course) with money that their marketing department would provide. I also learned
that Entel is the local representative of ICO, a constellation of satellites at
10000 km orbit that will have a minimun testing equipment by the year 2000.
For the initial effort to experiment with theur people and equipment and a
possible outcome of the Inmarsat initiative we believe Entel is part of our
team, exploring the possible ways to achieve satellite communications fromvery
high latitude places as Patriot Hills. They will join us in a press release to
the local community in Punta Arenas.
While looking their pictures from the ice, I was able to see that our yellow
crates (that we left last year) are still there. That is very good news given
that there was no hope to find them after one antarctic night. I also learned
that the minimun temperature they registered was -40C and the wind chill factor
went to -69C. The general comment is that the conditions are very bad in
October. We hope that they will improve during November.
Expedition Report from William Cassidy
3. Oct. 29, 1998, Thursday: Santiago and Punta Arenas
Today we depart from Santiago de Chile to Punta Arenas, the southernmost city in the world. We are flying on a Chilean Air Force (FACH) Hercules C-130 airplane. The flight should take about 5 hours. The team gathered outside our hotel, the apartment hotel Club Presidente, around 7:45AM. Everyone departed from there with the exception of Fernando Valdes whom we met at the airport. We arrived at the Air Force base at 8:30. The Herc took off just before noon. In the mean time we had had the chance to eat some breakfast at the base, in order to survive the flight: unlike the domestic commercial carriers, this flight does not have beautiful flight attendants offering food and drinks every five minutes. All the equipment was loaded on the plane except for the snowmobile that we rented in Santiago. The skidoo should arrive at Punta Arenas later today in a second Herc.
We arrived at Punta Arenas in the afternoon. The flight was long and overcrowded. Later we learned that FACH was flying journalists down to Patriot Hills to cover the deployment of Nomad. Alex spoke with Comandante Vidal, in charge of Public Relations at the base. The Commander planned to call a press conference the next day.
We rented two cars for transportation, and Christian got the air force base bus to drive us all to town to pick the cars up and to have dinner in Sotitos. We had a wonderful dinner, and later some of the group patronized a local bar and then went dancing at some kind of local university function involving women in underwear. This part of the group experience has never been completely clear to those of us who were not there, and the actual participants seem unable to describe it with any degree of clarity.
We had reserved sleeping accommodations at the Air Force base at Punta Arenas. Having Captain Puebla among us seems to facilitate getting support and resources from the Chilean Air Force.
The current plan is to work all Friday assembling the robot, since we have to be ready to take off to the ice any time during or after Saturday morning. Other activities are to get a second snowmobile at Punta Arenas from our friend Herman Pagels, from whom we had rented last year, to buy some groceries, get a last haircut and enjoy some good, hot meals before departing to the ice.